A USD 250 million loan to Kenya has been approved by the World Bank for a large scale affordable housing project. World Bank’s Kenya Country Director Mr. Felipe Jaramillo, said that the establishment and operationalisation of the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Corporation (KMRC), a largely private sector-owned and non-deposit taking financial institution supervised by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will be supported by Kenya Affordable Housing Finance Project (KAHFP).
The loan is expected to provide a much needed silver lining for the government’s affordable housing project.
Due to high cost of financing, urban housing currently remains out of reach for most Kenyans due to the short loan tenures and the high property cost. Almost 90% of Kenya’s total housing finance is provided from Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOS) that provide Kenyans access to loans.
Banks have tightened their credit standards and offer variable rate loans due to the 2016 interest rate cap, coupled with an overall Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratio of 12%, according to the World Bank, thereby locking out middle to low income would-be homeowners.
Although the interest rates provided by SACCOS remain low at 12%, they are highly constrained by the short-term nature of their deposit liabilities. Also the short loan tenures are not more than five years
While an increase in access to finance is expected from the the KMRC by tripling the proportion of urban households with access to mortgages, the project will also assist the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning to bring in improvents to property registration and address structural constraints in the land management system in Kenya.
Kenya has the right pre-conditions for KMRC to be successful, says the World Bank which has supported many mortgage refinance companies in emerging markets, Kenya has supportive macroeconomic conditions along with well-developed capital markets and financial institutions which are active in housing finance. The new initiatives for support will also target households which have been classified by the government as falling within the mortgage gap and low-cost categories representing about 95% of the formally employed population.